The World at Their Fingertips in a Retirement Community
From Machu Picchu to Thailand, well-rounded travelers Marilyn and Bob Ackelsberg have enjoyed interacting with different cultures and taking in the beautiful sights of the many places they have visited over the years. Therefore when it came time to find a living option for their future, the place they chose would have some unique experiences to follow. When they discovered Cathedral Village in Philadelphia, however, they found a vibrant continuing care community nestled in 44 acres that would not only offer them a suburban-style setting with scenic views, but convenience to the cultural offerings of the city.
Both born in the Bronx, Marilyn and Bob became friends in their early teens. After attending City College for his undergraduate studies, Bob received his Masters in Chemical Engineering at Columbia University. He also received a MBA from NYU, where Marilyn had gone for her undergraduate studies.
Having worked in the plastics industry and subsequently as a consultant, Bob decided to take a different career route and started teaching. He enrolled in a PhD business program at CUNY and started to teach at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City. Meanwhile, Marilyn stayed at home with their three sons and then she too went back to school to get her teaching certification.
With summers off, the couple bought a trailer and made two cross-country trips. “We went all over the country and into Canada,” said Bob. “The first time we went 13,000 miles and the second, we did 10,000.”
One of Marilyn’s favorite memories from these trips was when they went camping in Idaho, after seeing white water rafters on a cover of National Geographic. “It just looked so exciting,” she said. “So we got in touch with a guide and arranged for a side camping trip, spending five nights in the middle fork of the Salmon River with about 25 people and several rafts.”
When Bob finally received his Doctorate he accepted a position in the School of Business at Shippensburg University. When the couple moved to Shippensburg, Marilyn received her Masters Degree in Reading and worked as a reading specialist. Bob received a federal grant to initiate an international business program that included Asian languages and international business courses. Over the years, sabbaticals and presentations at conferences took them to Europe for extended visits.
The couple felt very fortunate when Bob taught at Prince of Songkla University in Southern Thailand. While he was teaching MBA students, Marilyn taught Conversational English to the faculty and staff as well as the local tourist police. “We were lucky to be asked back for a second time,” she said.
Due to business trips and their summers off from teaching, the couple has also enjoyed visits to Malaysia, China and to different parts of South America and Europe.
As much as they traveled, however, they loved returning home to Pennsylvania. “Our 21 years in a pastoral setting were truly a blessing. Country folk and Amish neighbors helped make it so,” said Marilyn.
As time passed, the Ackelsbergs moved to an active adult community where they lived for 12 years. Although their eldest son kept bringing up the idea of moving to Philadelphia to be near his family, the couple was happy with their lifestyle. That quickly changed, however, when he sent them an ad for Cathedral Village.
Two days later they were there visiting. Their decision to officially move to the community happened quickly.
“Sitting in the beautiful lobby, surrounded by plants, art, lovely flowers, and being greeted by so many friendly people, we felt that Cathedral Village would be the place even before we toured,” said Bob. “It was a very welcoming environment, very warm, just like home.”
Although they committed to visiting other communities, there was no doubt in their minds where they would ultimately spend their future. Now, after nearly a year at Cathedral Village, the Ackelsbergs could not be happier with their choice.
“It’s an atmosphere that’s so alive,” said Marilyn. “I’m now around people my age more than before and it’s more stimulating than when I was in an ordinary community!”
In fact, the couple loves taking advantage of Cathedral Village’s “College Classes,” fitness center and elaborate library while Marilyn participates in painting classes. They both sing with the Village Chorus, and are members of several resident committees. They also enjoy onsite musical performances, parties and lectures along with provided daytrips to theaters and museums in Philadelphia. Most importantly, they have the flexibility of seeing their family which now includes seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The Ackelsbergs have had no problems getting to know their fellow residents. “It seems like a large group of people, but you really feel like family,” said Bob.
This feeling not only applies to the residents, but to “the staff who are so responsive and supportive and responsible for keeping this place so wonderful,” said Marilyn. “Everyone cares about everyone and it’s a very comfortable place to be.”
The fact that Cathedral Village offers a continuum of care has always been an important aspect for the Ackelsbergs. “The quality of healthcare here is absolutely superb,” said Bob.
With access to skilled nursing and Alzheimer’s care onsite, residents have a sense of security and the convenience of even being able to receive assisted living services in the comforts of their apartments. A fully equipped medical department staffed with professional nurses is available 24/7 to respond to emergencies and for routine checks, as well as onsite primary care physicians five days a week. There are also dozens of specialists, from podiatrists to optometrists, who visit Cathedral Village on a weekly basis. “We can be as active as we want knowing the care is there,” said Marilyn.
Given their passion for maintaining their land over the years, it comes as no surprise that among the couple’s favorite amenities at the community are its lavish gardens and greenhouse, which has a full time horticultural/therapist. The dedication of those who worked in the greenhouse, with the horticulturist, resulted in Cathedral Village winning a prestigious award at this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show.
“There are trees here that are well over a hundred years old and all well cared for,” said Marilyn. “Sometimes when I look out the window, I think I’m at an arboretum, it’s so beautiful. They designed the place so well, it’s extraordinary.”
Although they are no longer traveling, it may be safe to say that with these picture-perfect views, an extended family and a range of amenities and activities, the Ackelsbergs still have the world at their fingertips at Cathedral Village.